A few years ago, Third Day, Michael W Smith, and Max Lucado went on the Come Together and Worship Tour. I caught the Atlanta stop at a packed-out Philips Arena (with roughly 17,000 of my closest friends ). Outside of a handful of experiences at church, this was the most worshipful event that I’ve ever been a part of. Lucado set the tone and direction well right at the start by requesting (commanding?) that all further applause for the rest of the night be directed to God and not to those on stage. This was obviously not just a “talk the talk” comment, but very intentional. And the worship was genuine — not just some warm fuzzy, hands raised-in-the-air, caught-up-in-the-moment experience.
Not content to simply allow something like this to happen, there were voices of dissent because (in an uncommon move) the tour was sponsored by Chevrolet. No voice was louder than that of Steve Camp. In his analysis of the situation, Camp begins by stating that “I want to affirm my love and prayers for Michael W. Smith, Third Day, and Max Lucado”, then proceeds to cruficy them. (See also, “with friends like these…”) This tactic does not seem to be uncommon for Camp, who also will make self-effacing remarks about his past, and then rip someone else’s present. I guess that Camp considers himself to have arrived and that Galatians 6:1 is not applicable.
… if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness …
This, of course, assumes that Camp is one of the “you who are spiritual”. But I digress.
Camp’s polemic is filled with strawmen, largely based (apparently) on some divine knowledge of others’ attitudes, thoughts, and feelings. Where non-existent (and therefore, very easily refuted) issues are not employed, mischaracterizations of situations and misinterpretations (or, at least, misapplication) of Scripture is used. One example would be the statement:
The fact that this is an “evening of worship and evangelism” — their language, not mine -means that we have now actually digressed to charging people money to worship the Lord.
Uh, no, Steve. “We” are charging people money to be a part of a particular event during which there is the hope and prayer that worship will take place. Just like I was charged money for your concerts back in the 80s. Even if this is dismissed as Camp’s past, he is alleging that I was incapable of achieving genuine worship at his concerts. I’m not sure who this insults the most — me, Camp, or God. And lest we classify this as solely the past, please be aware that Camp participated in a cruise earlier this year, for which people were charged a lot more than my ticket to that concert cost. By Camp’s argument, no worship must have occured on that ship either.
Camp also states:
I don’t’ (sic) know of any other singular event that has allowed the world to conduct its business or trade where the worship of the Lord is to be given and the gospel proclaimed.
In addition to the Come Together and Worship Tour, I have been to two other Third Day concerts (one earlier this week), both sponsored by Chevy. In all three events, the “conducting of business or trade” consisted of a Chevy logo on a pre-concert on-stage screen and Mac Powell (lead singer for Third Day) later saying, “we’d like to thank our friends at Chevrolet for sponsoring this tour.” Certainly, Camp doesn’t have a problem with the guys in Third Day being friends with (publicans and) sinners, does he? Conversely, to imply that worship and/or presentation of the gospel cannot occur in the world’s arena flies directly in the face of the Biblical injunction to be “in the world, but not of it” and also displays a very narrow view of worship.
Camp quotes these verses…
1 Corinthians 1:18
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
…and then uses them to claim that any level of acceptability in the world means that the Christian is doing something wrong. The converse to this argument is that disfavor by the world indicates that you’re doing something right. But it could just mean that you’re a booger-head:
1 Peter 2:20
For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently?
At one point, Camp even quotes a Chevy rep to bolster his argument, as though a representative of the world would have any credence in the midst of his statements.
1 Corinthians 3:4-7
For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.
People were bickering over who ministered to them. Paul called them carnal (i.e. worldly, earthly, temporal). Paul didn’t give a rip who did the ministering — in fact, he stated that it wasn’t him and it wasn’t Apollos, anyway — it was God. While this is just my interpretation, given the context, I can’t imagine Paul caring too much about the “how” either, if true ministering was occuring.
But, let’s not rely on my interpretation. I’ll close with one more Scripture.
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
In short, you can’t get in God’s way, even if you try.